Middle East flashpoints infographic
Graphic shows Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East.


Escalation of violence across Middle East flashpoints

By Duncan Mil

February 1, 2024 - Attacks by Iran-backed militant groups throughout the Middle East -- including the first to kill U.S. service members -- have dramatically heightened the risk of regional war.

The drone strike that killed three American soldiers at a base on the Syria-Jordan border on January 28 highlighted the threats faced by U.S. forces since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October.

President Joe Biden blamed “radical Iran-backed militant groups” for the strike and vowed to hold “all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing.”

According to estimates, the United States has more than 50,000 military personnel stationed in the Middle East across a range of bases and regional commands.

Iraqi militias have carried out more than 150 attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. 

However, the network of Iran-backed militias, which Tehran refers to as the “axis of resistance,” includes between 320,000 and 375,000 fighters.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out, Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen, have launched multiple attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Container shipping through the Red Sea has dropped by nearly one-third this year as Houthi attacks continue, drawing the U.S. and U.K. into combat -- launching attacks against Houthis’ military infrastructure in Yemen.

PUBLISHED: 02/02/2024; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images